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Donations sought to complete historic Coin Harvey home

By TRAVIS CRUM The Herald-Dispatch tcrum@heralddispatch.comMay 20, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Jim St. Clair said the public’s help is still needed to finish restoration work on the Coin Harvey House on 3rd Avenue.

The classical New Orleans-style house, complete with a grand staircase and Tiffany windows, was built in 1874 by William Hope “Coin” Harvey. Harvey was a presidential candidate and intellectual who furthered the of use of silver as legal tender, leading to his “Coin” nickname.

If completely renovated, St. Clair said the 3rd Avenue home will be a museum and a boon for tourism to the city.

St. Clair, a retired Huntington attorney, is currently the designated trustee and has been leading efforts to preserve the house with his wife, Mickey. The St. Clairs have poured more than $560,000 into the house, including removing termite and flood damaged areas, restoring the Tiffany stained glass windows, installing a concrete foundation around the home and restoring three fireplaces and a chimney.

However, Jim St. Clair said approximately $200,000 more is needed to add a back addition to the home, building a utility room and office space. The addition is necessary to make the house financially viable, which could be used as a museum, a party venue, a bed and breakfast or office, the St. Clairs said.

The St. Clairs have launched a website at www.CoinHarvey.com to help with the fundraising effort. People may find ways to donate money and also see a list of things still needed for the home, such as New Orleans 1874-style beds, armoires, antique file cabinets and period-style patio furniture, among others.

The house is being restored to look the way it would have been in the 1800s, Jim St. Clair said. Unfortunately, they do not have access to Harvey’s original furnishings.

“Coin was quite a mover,” Jim St. Clair said. “He was always on a move, and there were a number of homes he had owned in his lifetime.”

Since the project began several years ago, St. Clairs have received 50/50 matching grants from the West Virginia Department of Culture and History and several substantial private donations. The city of Huntington helped with demolition of a portion of the old additions.

The St. Clairs have organized a mission statement that lays out why previous fundraising efforts have been difficult. They have to compete with several other community organizations, they said.

“Since the wealthy ‘Coal Barons’ have died, gone out of business or moved away, companies such as Ashland Coal and Ashland Oil have relocated or merged. These corporations formerly had given large charitable donations to our city projects,” the mission statement said.

Jim St. Clair said any donation to the project is appreciated and is important to preserve Huntington’s history.

“We welcome small groups of people who want to go through it,” he added.

The Coin Harvey House, located at 1305 3rd Ave., was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The St. Clairs have since set up a 501c3 nonprofit designation for the house, which is managed by the Huntington Realty Corporation.

The home was acquired by Dr. Earl Gerlach in 1925 and was used as his medical practice. His daughter, Lenore Kaiser, inherited the house in 1945. Upon her death in 1999, the home was deeded to the E.J. and Lenore Kaiser and David E. Gerlach Foundation, and Jim St. Clair, Kaiser’s attorney, was designated as the trustee, which he remains today.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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